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What’s your parenting Achilles’ heel?

by Meagan Francis on April 25, 2012

You probably know the story of Achilles – the mythological Greek warrior and hero of the Trojan war. Achilles was invincible except for one weakness: his heel. Even after winning countless battles, all it took to kill the mighty Achilles was a single arrow in his vulnerable spot.

I think moms often have our own versions of the Achilles’ heel. Those little issues that get under your skin, even if they don’t seem to bother anyone else. The things we’re most sensitive about, worry the most about, spend the most time defending to ourselves or justifying to others.

I’m sure we’ve all got at least one Achilles’ heel. I think most of us have two or three or more.

Often our parenting Achilles’ heel goes back to way before we had kids: to our young adult life, or teen years, or childhood, and whichever issues and baggage we’ve carried forward. And sometimes it’s hard to identify our weak spots, because we don’t always see them reflected in the other parents we know.

For example, it’s never bothered me much when my children get angry or lash out at me. I think that’s because I grew up with fairly no-nonsense parents and always felt secure in their love. A mom with another background or different baggage from her own childhood might have a completely different reaction.

I’ve spent some time thinking about my own personal Achilles’ heels over the last few weeks. One that I settled on was the idea of being thought irresponsible. I was a pretty flaky teenager, and then there was the whole getting-pregnant-and-dropping-out-of-college thing, which led to several years of chaotic living as my husband and I tried to learn how to be adults and parents at the same time.

Now that we’re well into our 30s, stable, raising relatively normal children, and we’ve carved out career paths and a middle-class existence for ourselves, that flaky self-image has faded. Except when something comes up that picks at that old insecurity. That’s when my personal Achilles’ heel starts aching, calling attention to my weaknesses and eroding my self-confidence.

Here’s an example: my daughter Clara.

Her teeth, to be exact. If you’ve been reading this blog long, you’ve seen Clara before. What you may never have noticed, probably because I tend to choose photos that don’t show them, is that her top two teeth are seriously decayed.

When her top teeth came in – she was three or four months old; all my kids have been early teethers – I could tell right away that they weren’t quite right. Instead of shiny, white and strong they were sort of grayish and soft-looking. As the months went on they started eroding away, and we brought her in for her first dentist appointment when she was about nine months old.

Since then she’s visited a pediatric dentist regularly, and while I don’t remember the technical term for what’s wrong, he essentially told us that the enamel didn’t develop right in the affected teeth. Whether it was a hiccup in her development, some illness of mine in pregnancy, or perhaps the fact that she was on medication for the first six months of her life due to a suspected seizure? We’ll probably never know, though my second-youngest son’s teeth also weren’t great, so I’m thinking there’s a genetic force at play.

As the rest of her teeth are healthy, and X-rays have shown her adult teeth are fine, too, our dentist feels confident taking a wait-and-see approach. So we have opted against pulling or capping her teeth…for now. And I feel good about that decision. Mostly.

But oh, how it pokes at my Achilles’ heel when people, especially people who don’t know us, see her messed-up little teeth! I want to hold up a sign as I walk around with her, saying “UNDER A DENTIST’S CARE, SWEAR TO GOD.” Or inject anecdotes about dentists and tooth-brushing into every conversation with a new person, just so they’ll get the picture: I really do take care of my kids’ oral health needs! I brush their teeth regularly! I am not irresponsible!

The thing is, no matter how enlightened I become, I can’t run away from my past. My upbringing and my mistakes and foibles are as much a part of me as my freckles and freakishly-long second toes. I can’t escape my issues (or, as I like to call them, iss-yoos.) Neither can you.

But we don’t need to run away from them. The secret to carving out a happy, functional parenting life is recognizing our Achilles’ heels so that when they start getting to us, negatively coloring our experiences, making us doubt ourselves…we can say “Ah, yes! I know why I feel this way!” Then we can see past the tricks our minds play on us, and feel good and strong and confident about the choices we make for ourselves and our kids.

Perhaps having such a physical reminder of my Achilles’ heel is an opportunity to remember that parenting and life are messy, and that things may not always be what they seem. That “responsible” is a relative term, anyway. And a reminder not to let my insecurity pressure me into making decisions about my daughter’s care that I wouldn’t otherwise make, or to keep me from being out there and open out of fear of being judged.

Which is why I’ve shared all this with you just now. None of us are perfect, and we all have insecurities. I’m thinking I’d rather have mine right out in the open.

And from now on, I’m also sharing more of those open-mouthed smiles. Bad teeth or no, Clara’s grin is too cute to hide away.

What’s your parenting Achilles’ heel? Do any specific circumstances or events trigger it?

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori April 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Ooo, I do know my parenting Achilles’ heel: if people think my kids aren’t smart. For example, one time on a field trip the tour guide asked a question and one of my kids answered it massively incorrectly. I felt like I needed to reassure every single parent there that my kids really were smart.

The childhood baggage that led to this was knowing I was gifted but attending a school where everyone had to work at the same mediocre level. I just wanted my intelligence acknowledged! (Luckily as an adult I could take steps to do that on my own, like joining Mensa, which I did a few years ago).

Side note: so funny that I read this today, but in the People Magazine most beautiful people for this year (okay, trashy magazines are another Achilles’ heel), the always-gorgeous Charlize Theron said that her two front baby teeth were ruined by antibiotics when she was a child, so for many years she had no front teeth. Clearly, it did not affect her looks as an adult!

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SusanP April 25, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I have two — choosing not to breast feed my four kids and working outside the home.

The first – partly my childhood baggage of being a perfectionist/good girl/do everything right/follow the rules. I tried very hard to BF my first but long story short, it did not work out. I take it to heart when people are either smug because it was so easy for them or worse if they went through hell and did it any way because “they loved their child too much not to” and clearly I didn’t try hard enough. It’s even been a sticking point with our family doctor who, at an early appt with my 4th said something along the lines of “I can’t believe such an attached/bonded wonderful mother like you doesn’t breast feed”.

As for working – it’s the baggage of listening to all the women in my family bash working moms as I was growing up/before I had kids. Many of them now say I’m a wonderful mother but I still wonder what they really think…. especially when they STILL bash other people about it – the whole “Why have kids if you’re not going to raise them” line …. or regarding my SAHM sister “She doesn’t want to go back to work – she wants to be a Mom”.

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Michelle April 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Oh SusanP, we are kindred spirits! I have but two little ones, but other than that I could’ve written your post. Kudos to you for realizing that having a career and being a wonderful mother are not mutually exclusive. Your quotes made me teary-eyed because they’re lines I hear frequently…and even though I KNOW I am a PHENOMENAL mother to my boys, I can’t help but let those two issues (BF & work) chip away at my esteem. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. :)

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SusanP April 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Thank you — love to find kindred spirits :-) Seems there are several of us commenting here who share the same experience.

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Juliana April 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I have several, but the most prevalent one at the moment is my kids’ health issues. My older son and youngest daughter have respiratory issues that are not contagious, but are chronic. They both sound tubercular much of the time with junky coughs. It bugs me when people give me a stink eye for “taking my sick kids out in public.” UNDER A DOCTOR’S CARE, I SWEAR!! And they aren’t contagious, darnit.

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MyKidsEatSquid April 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Do we only get to choose one?;) Hum, maybe it’s more universal than just you, don’t all moms at some point feel like we need a sign that says “Yes, I am responsible!”? I know my daughter went to school once with pretty much crackers for lunch but it was because I’d been helping her with a school project she remembered at the last minute.

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Crinkled April 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm

She certainly does have a very cute smile. It would be silly to pull her teeth out or cap them if it isn’t necessary. Please don’t let the fear of looking like an irresponsible parent sway your decision making. It won’t be long until she has beautiful new teeth.

At the moment I can’t think of a real parenting Achilles’ heel that I have. I’ll let you know when it comes to me, because I’m sure it’s there, it’s just not coming to mind right now.

Just like you, I don’t like feeling judged. Sometimes the way I dress looks pretty bad, not very motherly, old clothes, normally dodgy looking t-shirts – some band t-shirts, some with holes and stains, some with skeleton hands on them – plus my three kids look quite different from each other and I don’t wear my wedding ring, so I’m quite certain that I get judged. I’m sure I get mistaken for a bad mum, probably single mum and living off government payments and spending that money on drugs, my children are probably all from different men, etc, etc, when I’m about as close as a goody-two-shoes as you can get, never tried drugs, don’t drink or smoke, have never even had a boyfriend other than my husband, and he has a good job so I don’t have to work. So, yeah, I’m quite certain I get judged, but I know it is the way I have presented myself, and I can put my ring back on and dress in a conservative, pretty way, and look like mum of the year, so it doesn’t affect me mentally.

Let them judge. You know the truth.

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Crinkled April 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Oh, after reading Lori’s comment, I’ve just realised I do have an Achille’s heel. It is kind of the opposite of Lori’s. My eldest child is very smart and has always loved words. She is in Kindergarten (first year of primary school, 5 years old) and can read and write quite well. As a parent, I have not really gone out of my way to push my children to learn anything in particular before they are of school age, but, if they show an interest in something, I am very willing to encourage it. In this case, my daughter loves reading and writing and is well ahead of other kids her age in this area (and also great in other areas too, e.g. maths and drawing), but I feel very self conscious about this when talking to other parents, because I feel that they think I am one of those parents who pushes their kids hard, and probably showed her flash cards from birth, and stuff like that. Which I’m very much not.

I remember one of my closest friends (a single working mum) felt bad because she didn’t have time to do lots of wonderful, crafty, educational things with her son at home. I told her we don’t do all that stuff either and she looked at me surprised and said “Oh, I thought you did”. Nope.

And just to give an example, my daughter could write her own name, plus the names of her four immediate family members, when she was three and a half. Where as my four year old son, who has shown very little interest in reading and writing until just recently, has only just learnt to write his own name correctly (he’s been doing the right letters in random order for a few months, but now he gets it right every time), which I think is perfectly normal for his age.

When I talk to friends about my daughter’s reading or writing or anything school related, I sometimes get the feeling that some of them feel in competition or like I am bragging, and some start to worry about their own child’s normal level of ability, maybe they even think I am judging them because they haven’t put in the effort to get their child to that level (totally not. Please, mothers, stop thinking everyone is judging you, most of us are struggling along with our own issues).

I feel that reading and writing is just her thing. All kids have something they love or are good at. And at 5 years old you should not be worrying about your child’s abilities at school, especially when they are perfectly normal.

Anyway, my Achilles’s heel is looking like a pushy parent (or a bragging one, or a judging one) because I have a bright child.

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Kirsetin April 25, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Ack! Running for cover as I read this post. ONE of mine…I want to carry a sign that says, “I DO NOT COOK THEM SEPARATE MEALS.” Or, “I FED THEM VEGETABLES AS BABIES!” This generally happens when we make new friends, and my kid doesn’t like sloppy joes or steak or whatever it is they’re serving that’s not pasta or plain old chicken.

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SleeplessinSummerville April 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I laughed when I saw that! I feel the same way regarding the way my son (mostly doesn’t) eats.

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Ashley April 26, 2012 at 9:23 am

Oooh, my Achilles heel is feeling insecure about being a working mom. Even when I got pregnant, I had zero intention to stay home and felt very comfortable with the idea of continuing to work outside the home. And then DS was born, and I couldn’t have been more surprised when returning to work after a 12-week maternity leave proved to be VERY emotionally difficult for me. I ended up depressed and very, very anxious. Couple that with the fact that my mom and all her friends stayed at home when their children were young, and all the friends and family members who made snarky comments about working moms before I became one, and yeah — turns out those messages stuck more than I realized. For a long time, I absolutely couldn’t let myself off the hook and let myself simply rest or even go on a date with my husband because I felt so terribly guilty for being away from DS during the work day … which led to greater depression and anxiety.

Thanks to a wonderful therapist, these issues are mostly under control but every now and then, they come back and I just want to hold up a sign that says I AM A DEVOTED MOM AND MY SON IS STILL MY FIRST PRIORITY EVEN THOUGH I WORK FULL-TIME. I SWEAR!

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Kelli Oliver George April 26, 2012 at 10:47 am

Frankly, this post made me cry. I am in a sensitive spot right now, so that didn’t help. Sigh.

We are dealing with a nice trifecta of skin issues with my son — some eczema, some seasonal allergies and then the mosquitoes hit. I hate that this skin is so scratched up all the damned time and last year, we dealt with TWO staph infections.

And the comments from folks – is it poison ivy? Is it chicken pox? OMG, is he contagious?? Even worse, when they find out it is mostly allergies (we got through this last winter pretty well, for a change!) then….. everyone has the SOLUTION. As if a bit of Neosporin will clear it right up. As if we have not taken him to doctors and a dermatologist. As if we are not armed to the teeth with troops of creams and medicines and bandages.

And the judgment. Don’t get me started.

I feel you, Meagan. I really feel you.

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Shannon April 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

Ashley, your response is so right where I’m at right now. My Achilles heel is also the whole working thing. I am surrounded by family and friends who are mostly SAHMs, and the comments during conversations regarding mothers who work, kids who are in public or private schools (many of my friends home school), etc. have led to a lot of internal anxiety about my choices. I also never saw myself as a SAHM, but then my kids were born and it’s been much harder to continue a full-time career than I had realized. It’s not that I don’t want to work, but I also want to be as involved as possible with my kids, and it’s so very hard to do both. And then when your choices are criticized, that makes it all the harder. The good news is that my kids are incredibly happy at their schools (they can’t wait to get out the door in the mornings) and I have a great career. If I can stay focused on those facts, then it makes the criticisms easier to handle.

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Ashley April 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Shannon, hang in there. I SO empathize with you; being a working mom is really freaking hard, particularly when you’re trying to be as much of a hands-on mother as humanly possible. I’m betting that you’re a very capable person and are doing everything better than you give yourself credit for.

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Shannon April 27, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thanks for your kind words, Ashley! I needed to hear that, and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone … thanks again.

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Stephanie Precourt April 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

Oh, that photo is adorable. Well, mine was the same and you know what- oh it’s so good to be through that with the teeth! Gray’s were seriously awful. I hated sending him to kindergarten that first day because of what his teachers would think and I specifically wrote a special note on his file that he was under a dentist’s care. We took care of it all this past year- we went through (literally) 6 different dental offices and finally found someone that would help us. He had 5 visits and his teeth are ALL better. They did pull those top four and within a week the new front teeth were coming in! And they look perfect! I am so happy with this. But yeah- I always felt judged, especially since I nursed him so long. But seriously, his teeth came in with no enamel!

The other triggers for me are maybe the whole “having too many kids” thing- I get sensitive about that if I let one kid’s homework slip through the cracks or I mess up in some way or a teacher has to email me about something, I feel like maybe they think I’m not paying attention. I know that’s probably not the case, but I just feel judged in that way!

Steph

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SleeplessinSummerville April 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I want a sign that says HE HAS HEALTH PROBLEMS, OK? I TOOK HIM TO THE DOCTOR, OK? IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU THINK, OK? for my kid. Not that I really want everyone to know about his health problems, but my kid is really undersized for his age. When I take him to the playground and folks ask me how old he is, I tell them and see the raised eyebrows, especially when the parent asking has a similarly-aged child. And then there is the judgement based on how he eats (he mostly doesn’t) and it’s not because I’m a nincompoop, it’s because, he has health problems that typically cause children not to eat well. And I only say this about health problems, because if you see my kid during the day, you would think there was nothing in the world wrong with him except that he’s really small. He’s happy, he’s coordinated (for his age), he talks OK, nothing about him says “I’m a special-needs kid” and that’s wonderful, it just leads to a lot of people judging my parenting. We were visiting family recently, and my brother and sister in law were giving me s** about my kid’s eating, and then their child (7 years old) said, “If he has all these health problems, why don’t you take him to the doctor?” Doctors aren’t magical healers, folks. Sometimes they don’t know just what to do either!
So I went on this long rant and I think that what you were going for was why we have these parenting Achilles heels. Mine is rooted in the fact that I was for a long time, that jerk asking parents of kids with problems why they didn’t just… (fill in the blank with whatever advice we’ve all heard a thousand times). I actually got my job because a former coworker of mine had a baby. Who turned out to have acid reflux. So I know I was that jerk who didn’t get why a perfectly normal person would cosleep or whatever, and would say they couldn’t let their child cry. Yes, it smarts. Thanks for letting me share!!!

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Becky April 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

My little boy had exactly the same thing with his front two teeth. We let them pull his close to age four, per their recommendation. That was VERY traumatic. The dentist said that it wasn’t caused by anything we’d done or didn’t do. I cut all of his meat into very tiny bits. His adult teeth did come in just fine, five years later, at age eight. People were very judgemental, like I’d fed him bottles full of soda. I didn’t let it bother me though. He was breastfed forever and everything has turned out fine. He and his little brother both went from breastfeeding to goat milk and finally to some cow milk. That seemed to be easier on them. Some are still compelled to comment on “teeth care.” I find that the same individuals are also compelled to comment on other aspects of our lives; organic food, co-sleeping, homeschooling, brothers sharing a room when they don’t “have to” and etc.. Unfamiliarity with my life choices sometimes causes anxiety for others. Oh well, we’re happy and doing well. I’m “The Mama.” People making comments are “NOT The Mama.” So, you Good Mama you, roll with those punches and “take every knock as a boost…” Love that song! Eric Bibb sings it, for one. Have a great day!

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Meagan Francis April 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your stories, everyone! I’m especially grateful to know I’m not the only mom who’s felt so sheepish about a child’s dental issues.

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Kristi April 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

My son is small and lean and I feel like I am always on the defensive about how often and how much he eats, especially (get this) from a certain family member. First time it happened, I was shocked that someone could get at my vulnerability so easily. You’re absolutely right that these triggers can stem from circumstances before baby. I have always been thin and was constantly badgered, bullied and even called Anna-Rex as cruel moniker for my body type. Luckily, we live a whole country away from that particular relative but since our children are only two months apart in age and my son isn’t likely to sprout the build of a linebacker anytime soon I know it will be an issue whenever we visit. My son is my ultimate Achilles heel and I trying to come to terms with that has been the most challenging task of parenthood so far.

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maggie April 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Great article! If moms everywhere would just stop judging each other so much, our Achilles heels might not be so sensitive:)
Mine is totally the way I’m raising my 3 kids! We’re very laid back. They belong to Girl Scouts, but that’s it. No organized sports, no 4 games a weekend, no practices, no classes, no extended traveling. We don’t watch a lot of tv and only have the basic tv channels. Not too much current, popular media for them. They occasionally use the computer, but screen time is not an issue around here. A lot of outside time. And they are smart, active, funny, creative, curious kids! If they would ask to do these things, I’d let them, but they haven’t really asked.They do take an occasional lesson at the library, for example, or might play softball for a couple of months…We’re happily living the “slow life”, but I am so afraid in this hyper competitive world we live in I am really doing them a disservice. If they’re not playing year ’round soccer by 8th grade or planning their own ballet recitals at age 10 will they still succeed?

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SusanP April 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

You sound just like us – this is exactly how we are raising our kids. I do worry about it sometimes but I’m not as senstivie about it (not an achilles heel) mainly because it’s similar to the way I was raised and I’m happy with how I turned out. I totally get your last two sentences though – and I do doubt our choices sometimes since times are so very different now.

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Kami April 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm

My Achilles nerve is-being a working mom and defending it to stay-at-home mom’s even if they aren’t debating it. It’s the looks and the assumptions that hit my nerve. I want to defend that from the moment I pick up my kids from child care that every minute is treasured and much fun and adventures are shared. They go to bed happy with books read to them and songs sung to them and the know they are LOVED! I pick the best possible child care situation so they are in a safe environment and I ask questions and I am engaged in their learning and what goes on in their day. I take time off for fieldtrips and important events for my child. I can see it does stem from childhood baggage. My mom was able to stay at home and be there with cookies in hand when I arrived home and I think the guilt of not measuring up to what my mom was able to do brings out those insecurities.

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TheFeministBreeder April 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Someone said it above – my kids all look COMPLETELY different (they do not look related in the slightest, especially because only ONE of my children came out looking Hispanic even though they all have the same Mexican father.) Every time we’re out in public, I have this nagging feeling that people think that my two sons aren’t my husband’s children since my youngest is the only one that looks like him. Dude, people use do assume that my mother-in-law was the nanny. She had to constantly explain that she was the grandma. And I would not be caught dead outside the home without my wedding ring, especially since it looks like my kids have a bunch of different daddies. It’s not that I would ever judge any woman who had kids with a bunch of dudes, or that I’d judge single moms, but I am literally the first person in my entire family to ever be married BEFORE I had kids, and I’m also the first person in my entire family not to have a baby before I reached the legal drinking age. I know how people look at women with lots of baby daddies, and I know how people view teen moms. It’s wrong, but thinking that they’re judging me that way when I’m not either one of those things definitely irks me. I worked hard to break the cycle, dammit.

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Anna April 26, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Our daughter has severe eczema and food allergies-I remember once in the store, the cashier said to me “haven’t you EVER tried lotion on her?” Her flare-ups are AWFUL and to those unknowing, she looks like we neglect her in some way-I have FINALLY let go of thinking it is my fault-because we have tirelessly tried all modalities of healing with her and time and patience are what she needs most…acupressure, chiropractic, herbal remedies, and traditional medicines have all helped in their own ways…

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Kelli Oliver George April 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Anna,
I posted a similar Achilles heel! Just the other day, my grandma recommended I use Neosporin. Sigh.

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Magen May 6, 2012 at 12:54 am

Uhhhgg!! I hate it when people complete strangers feel the need to criticize parents in public (especially in front of your kids)! I totally don’t get it. It’s hurtful, negative and ignorant.

Just the other day I had an older woman chase me down to ask if my children were wearing helmets while I was pulling them in a bike trailer. Regardless if they were or not (or if they should)…will you please consider that my children are listening, I’m a grown woman, and I’m serving as an example to my children of being active while taking them on a BIKE RIDE on a BIKE PATH on a beautiful day. Please, say something nice because you never know where a parent is at or if they can take the abuse.

Okay, I’m done :)

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Edith April 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Where to begin….I’m a new mom. My daughter will be four months old next week. I’m not a working mom in the usual sense – I’m a very active volunteer, and every time I leave my daughter with her grandmother so I can attend a fundraiser or luncheon or board meeting, I get the evil eye from her, or I feel like I do. And, I do breast-feed – but we’ve been transitioning to full-time formula feeding, and every time I’m on the internet or I pull out a bottle in public instead of a boob or whatever, guilt guilt guilt!

The latest one – the condescending tone of response when I say, no, I didn’t have a drug-free birth, and I’m okay with it.

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tate01 April 27, 2012 at 3:39 am

I definitely do have an Achilles hell when it comes to parenting. I ama brand spanking new mommy to a beautiful daughter who is a bit on the chunky side, and although I think she’s perfect,I hear every singlet person who sees her for the first time comment on her weight. Even ask me if I feed her to much. Someone even asked me specifically if I just shoved a bottle in her mouth every timshe made a noise as if I were to incompetent to know when she was or was not hungry. Very upsetting to me

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Alexandria April 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Great post, and I wouldn’t know where to begin as I identify with so many of the comments.

The weight stuff is a biggie to me, because my sister is anorexic, and obesity runs somewhat in the family. So it becomes apparent to me what an INSANE weight-obsessed society we are. I mean hell, on any given day I am “too thin” or “overweight.” You can’t win, and I am overly protective when the comments are aimed at my kids. There was a relative who was way overly obsessed with chubbiness of my baby, and the kicker was when dh calls me after a well baby doctor appointment and mentions there is a problem with weight. I think I ripped him a new one before he told me, “He didn’t gain enough weight.” Ha! I was SO sensitive to all the chubby comments. {Um, aren’t babies supposed to be chubby? Apparently so!!} Anyway, both my kids are naturally a size -5 or something, so then it’s the “Do you feed your kids?” comments.

I just wanted to add that I think it really helps to know what you are overly sensitive and overly reacting to. On the flip side, it helps to step back and see these are the same reasons other people often get in your face and are judgmental – as they deal with their own insecurities. I just personally don’t understand why it is normal to be so judgmental. BUT, over the years I have felt kind of smug as I have watched the people that annoy me the most – the most vocal – the most judgmental – deal with their own demons. I have several acquaintances who, surprise surprise, had terrible marriages or other serious issues they were dealing with. IT comes out slowly over time. But there are so many of these types that I look back on, and it all makes sense. So it is easier for me to deal with these personality types. Anyone who is *that interested* in your decisions, has serious insecurities of their own – no doubt about it.

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Jennie B April 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I loved this article, especially when I read about your second toes because I also have very long second toes – they’re the same length as my pinky! In France they have a word for feet like ours though – if the first toe is longest you have Greek feet and if it’s the second, Egyptian feet. WHen I found that out, I saw my feet in a new and more elegant light ;>) I know the article was about much more serious stuff and the comments have been so eye-opening and encouraging, but I found it much more powerful because it made me laugh! I really relate to the Mum who says she hates being seen as a pushy parent.

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Sarah April 30, 2012 at 10:50 am

I completely understand what you mean about the irresponsibility thing. My now-18-month-old son was a fussy baby from the start, howled at us constantly from day one, and is still hypersensitive to being told “No” or being assaulted (read: he melted down recently when lightly pushed by another kid at daycare). When the teachers tell me about it, all I can say is “I know” and that he does it at home too. I don’t give in to his hollering when I tell him he can’t have another cookie, I don’t rush to cuddle him when he topples over while running through the house, it’s not my coddling or being a pushover that leads him to be this way; it’s just how he is and we all need to ride out the storm together. That said, it eats at me for days that they think I’m being a weenie parent, while I know I’m doing everything in my power at home to teach him to brush off the day-to-day offenses and stumbles and to handle it when we tell him “No.” (Some of it is basic development of course, but if his teachers are bringing it to my attention, it means they think it’s over-the-top, which it is, but again, I’m limited in what I can do to stop it.)

As for your daughter’s teeth, I fully sympathize. My baby teeth were fine, but one of my adult molars grew in with no enamel and had to be capped when I was 8. The rest of my teeth are still extremely sensitive (thin enamel) but otherwise I lucked out in the genetic dental lottery.

Strength to us all as we struggle to get them to 18-years-old!

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Karen May 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Hi Meagan! Just found your blog from Kelle Hampton’s recent post re: your podcast with her. Great post you’ve written here…

My Achilles’ heel is the fact my husband and I have chosen to have only one child. There are several reasons for this decision, but at the heart of it is that having one child feels right to me. It gives me a sense of balance (as woman, wife and mother) and serenity that I know I wouldn’t have if I had more children.

I respect other people’s choices to have as many children as they like, however our decision to have one child comes under attack quite often. Supposedly we’re selfish, lazy and cruel for not “giving” our daughter a sibling. Oh, and supposedly I’m not a real mother either since I have only one.

I don’t expect everyone to understand our choice in family size, and I understand that people are entitled to their own opinions, but I would appreciate them keeping their criticisms to themselves. I’m just tired of feeling like I have to defend/justify our choice.

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Magen May 6, 2012 at 12:59 am

This question is awesome. I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments.

Mine is the work issue. I have this constant need for others to know that I am more than just a stay at home mom. I feel guilty even writing it because I don’t want to say that being a stay at home mom is not wonderful. It is. But I also worked really hard for my education and part-time career and I’m proud of my accomplishments.

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